Operator EE has teamed with AR company Nreal to exclusively offer the Nreal Air AR glasses in the UK, on its 5G network. The glasses will be available later in the spring of 2022, with full pricing to be confirmed at a later date.
Nreal Air supports mobile gaming via the cloud, as well as streaming films and TV shows in HD. By connecting a Bluetooth gaming controller, users can turn a smartphone into a portable console when it is combined with a game-streaming platform. The device supports two modes—Air Casting mode for users to mirror their phone screen and get a mobile experience on a 130-inch HD virtual display; and MR Space mode, which provides a mixed-reality environment and multiple virtual screens up to 201 inches.
Connected AR glasses have been around for a few years now. Google Glass debuted in 2014 to a fairly negative public reaction, most likely due to the perception that web-surfing would be too closely integrated into everyday activities, couple with the perception that the glasses signified ostentatious tech-savviness and conspicuous consumption. For a while, there was talk that AR glasses would find widespread application in heavy industry, among workers performing technical tasks, and the like. Now it seems as if the technology is finally finding its niche as a virtual gaming and entertainment platform.
If it is indeed the case that AR glasses connected to the internet are being accepted by users on these terms, then it is a good idea for mobile operators to get in on the game by offering them to their subscribers, at reasonable prices, in tandem with mobile service plans that are purpose-built for gaming and streaming. It appears that this is exactly what EE has been planning to do. If these plans end up succeeding, other UK operators will want to do likewise—but they will not be able to with Nreal Air AR glasses, because EE has gotten itself the exclusive, another savvy move.